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Silica:Alumina Ratio (SiO2:Al2O3)


The ratio of silicon dioxide to alumina oxide is often used as an indicator of glaze matteness. A glaze with high alumina thus has a low silica:alumina ratio. This ratio has some value because alumina stiffens the glaze melt (stiffer melts do not smooth out as well on cooling thus creating a fired surface that scatters light). There are obvious limitations to using this indicator since there are other mechanisms and influencers of glaze matteness (e.g. crystallization, firing temperature). Generally, the mechanism of matteness is never purely the alumina:silica ratio. The presence of boron can gloss even a high alumina mix. Of course firing temperature affects gloss (a glossy glaze will be matte if under fired). Firing range is another variable: at low temperatures high temperature fluxing oxides (e.g. CaO, MgO) turn into matting agents (via melt stiffening). In addition, the presence of zinc can cause crystallization and matteness in an otherwise glossy glaze that even has a very high ratio. CaO in large amounts is a matting agent in high and medium temperature glazes (via crystallization). Opacifers will affect matteness.

If you are aware of all the mechanisms and interactions present, there are many cases where you can make use of the SiO2:Al2O3 ratio to some degree to control matteness by adjusting the ratio. The G1214Z recipe is a good example of this. If a glaze is already glossy and the SiO2:Al2O3 ratio is quite low and it is melting well this likely indicates that the glaze has the capacity to accept much more silica to raise, not only the ratio, but improve many other fired properties at the same time (see the example photo linked to this topic).

If your glaze can handle more silica and melt just as well then add it!

If your glaze can handle more silica and melt just as well then add it!

The cone 6 G1214M glaze on the left melts well. Can it benefit from a silica addition? Yes. The right adds 20% yet still melts as well, covers better, is more glossy, more resistant to leaching, harder and has a lower thermal expansion.

Out Bound Links

  • (Articles) G1214Z Cone 6 Matte Base Glaze

    This glaze was developed using the 1214W glossy as a starting point. This article overviews the types of matte glazes and rationalizes the method used to make this one.

  • (Glossary) Matte Glaze

    A glaze that is not glossy. Of course, unmelted glazes will not be glossy, but to be a true matte a glaze must be melted and still not glossy. To be a functional matte it must also resist cultery marking, clean well and not leach into food and drink. Thus it is not easy to make a good matte glaze. I...

  • (Glossary) Dolomite Matte

    Dolomite matte glazes are normally fired at cone 10 and often have a very pleasant-to-the-touch silky-feeling surface. This unique feel is a product of tiny discontinuities in the glaze melt (phase changes) that exhibit at the surface as tiny waves and ripples. This phenomenon is thought to be assoc...

  • (Recipes) G1214M - Original Cone 6 Base Glossy Glaze

    A recipe developed by Tony Hansen in the 1980s. Its was popular because of the simplicity of the recipe and how well it worked with chrome-tin stains.

    2003-12-17 - This is also known as the 20x5 recipe. It was developed during the early 1980s to demonstrate principles of glaze chemistry in creating a glaze base s...

In Bound Links

  • (Glossary) Si:Al Ratio

    Conceptually we consider fired glazes as having a structure of oxides held together by molecular bonds. Ten major oxides likely make up 98% of all base glazes. Each oxide contributes specific characteristics to the glass and they interact in predictable ways. By rationalizing their absolute values a...


By Tony Hansen




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